More iPhone OS 3.0 features emerge: Video record, Internet tethering, Find My iPhone

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Chicago (IL) – Last week, Apple
barely scratched the surface on all of the features in store for the iPhone OS 3.0. The company apparently decided to save a few pleasant surprises for the official release this
summer. According to iPhone developers now playing with 3.0 and SDK 2.0, the device receives two biggies: video recording and Internet tethering functionalities. In
addition, subscribers to Apple’s MobileMe suite of cloud services will
be able to locate stolen a device geographically using the web interface.

Since Apple unveiled the iPhone OS 3.0 and an associated SDK 2.0 this past Tuesday, we’ve really learned only about a dozen new capabilities planned for both developers and end-users.
Apple’s list included in excess of 1,000 new APIs for developers and over
100 user-centric features (check Apple Insider’s excellent screenshot gallery
for visual  run-down through demoed features). In the meantime, three
new features were discovered thanks to developers who have access to
the new SDK and iPhone OS betas.

These include video
recording and sharing, Internet tethering and a cool new capability allowing owners to geographically locate their lost or stolen iPhones via
the MobileMe cloud service. While Apple made no mention of these
features during the presentation, developers claim these
functionalities are already in place in the iPhone OS 3.0 they’re using.

Video recording finally enabled

Engadget learned that the iPhone OS 3.0 features a video sharing option under the MobileMe section of the Settings
interface. The new interface pops up when you publish an image
into your library — allowing you to name the recorded video, type in short
description and choose an online gallery at me.com where the video will be
published. This not only hints that built-in Photos app could
evolve into an all-purpose manager for user-taken images and videos, but it could also inspire a new Movies app to enable device trimming for recorded videos and then sharing them via MMS — just like what the new Voice Memos app does for audio recordings. Apple’s 358-page iPhone patent holds more cues to video recording capabilities.

It’s unclear though whether the final shipped version of the iPhone OS 3.0
will enable video recordings only on upcoming iPhones (with their higher-resolution
camera) or on existing models as well. Unofficial programs for
jailbroken iPhones, like Cycorder, allow video recording using the built-in camera
hardware on current iPhones. Apple watchers suspect the video recording
features will work only with the yet-unreleased high-end model as a differentiating feature. Others suspect the arrival of video recording
doesn’t necessarily mean Apple will approve third-party video
recording programs on the App Store.

While there is much speculation on both sides, developers have shown the capability is ther already. It’s just a question of to what extent Apple will enable it.


ALL iPHONES TO GAIN VIDEO RECORDING ABILITIES?
Video
recording is one of glaring omission in current iPhones. Despite
unofficial apps that let you record videos on jailbroken iPhones,
current iPhone software disables video recording. While the new iPhone
OS 3.0 might bring video recordings to yet-unreleased iPhone models,
there are no guarantees this feature will be enabled on current
iPhones.
Image credit: Engadget

MobileMe finds your lost or stolen iPhone

This
clever feature pairs your MobileMe subscription and iPhone’s GPS
circuitry to help locate a lost or stolen unit. Enabled by tapping the
Find My Phone control under the MobileMe section of
iPhone’s settings (below push options for MobileMe items), the feature
authorizes the iPhone unit with its MobileMe account on the web. Using new
controls of a future, updated MobileMe web interface, users will be able to retrieve geographical location of an authorized
handset. This is accomplished through remote-triggering which taps the iPhone’s
geolocation features (via GPS, Wi-Fi and/or cellular triangulation).

In a
nutshell, MobileMe utilizes Wide Area Bonjour (zero-configuration networking) technology to discover an authorized handset. The cloud then establishes a secure IPSec
tunnel link to the unit, securely retrieving its geolocation. In addition
to location, the MobileMe web interface will allow remote wiping the
handset — mirroring iPhone’s enterprise remote wipe feature of mail, calendar and contact items synced with corporate Microsoft Exchange
accounts.



FIND A STOLEN IPHONE AND REMOTE-WIPE ITS CONTENTS

The
new setting (dubbed “Find My iPhone”) enables you to ping your iPhone via
MobileMe web interface in order to retrieve its current geographical
location. In addition, you can remotely wipe a device’s contents — just like
how enterprise sysadmins can remotely wipe your iPhone’s calendars,
contacts and email messages synced with corporate Exchange accounts.

Internet Tethering:  Sharing your iPhone’s Internet connection

While
the announcement event video stream doesn’t show this, the Q&A
session that followed the presentation pitted Apple execs Phil
Schiller
, Greg Joswiak and Scott Forstall against the gathering. Schiller confirmed that
tethering is present in 3.0, but warned that
implementation requires both technical and commercial support from
individual cellphone
carriers. [Note: Tethering allows your iPhone’s cellular connection to be
shared with a computer via a USB cable or Bluetooth.]

While AT&T’s
iPhone data plan comes with an unlimited 3G data, most carriers
cap tethering bandwith and charge for this service separately. In the United States, AT&T’s mobility chief Ralph de la Vega confirmed that tethering is coming to the iPhone. MacRumors credited Irish programmer Steven Troughton-Smith with an accidental discovery of
tethering capabilities in iPhone OS 3.0’s network settings.


INTERNET TETHERING
Tethering lets your computer connect to your iPhone’s cellular Internet through a USB cable or Bluetooth.
Apple
said it has done its part by bringing so-called Internet tethering to
3.0, leaving individual carriers to decide if they will
support tethering on a country-by-country bases
and under what commercial terms. Pictured
above are new Internet Tethering options found under the Network
settings panel (left) and a home screen with a new blue status bar
bellow the clock (right) that indicates an active tethering link with a
computer.

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